OKLAHOMA CITY — The stage is set.
The top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners staved off elimination four straight times after dropping their Women’s College World Series opener agains the James Madison Dukes, and now they’ll play for a national title.
Awaiting them are the No. 10-seeded Florida State Seminoles, who also dropped their first game of the WCWS to UCLA, and have put themselves into the same position as the Sooners.
The three-game Championship Series will feature two teams who went the distance in the loser’s bracket for the first time.
HOW TO WATCH: National Championship Series
- Game 1: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
- Game 2: Wednesday, 6 p.m. CT, ESPN
- Game 3 (if necessary): Thursday, 2 p.m., ESPN
Since 2000, only three other teams have recovered from an opening day loss to play for the national title. UCLA did it in both 2003 and 2010, winning it all in 2003, and the very same Seminoles came all the way back to win the title in 2018.
For both teams, the slate will be wiped clean.
Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday evening will be the first time since Thursday that either team will be able to breathe. A loss won’t mean elimination, and now they will just play with the pressure of winning it all as opposed to heading home from Oklahoma City early.
OU head coach Patty Gasso said the team’s ability to dig deep and battle through every situation allowed them to reel off four straight wins.
“They play hard. They don't quit. It was just really that attitude,” Gasso said after the Sooners beat James Madison on Monday. “So it's just one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time. If any team can do this, it's our team, so let's make history. That was really kind of the attitude, and not being afraid. You can't be afraid to lose. You've got to play to win.”
Pitcher Giselle Juarez said she can’t wait to get back out on the field to play for a National Championship.
“I'm really excited. We worked all year for this moment,” she said. “To be one of two teams is amazing, and we've just got to keep playing our game and trusting each other. It feels amazing, but it's been a grind.”
After mowing through Mary Wilson Avant, Rachel Garcia and Odicci Alexander, another great challenge awaits the Oklahoma offense in Seminole pitcher Kathryn Sandercock.
In a combined 5 1/3 innings pitched in her two games against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Sandercock only allowed two runs, striking out two batters. She also threw a complete game against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, also allowing just two runs and punching out eight Cowgirl batters.
Freshman center fielder Jayda Coleman said regardless of the opponent, OU will take the same approach they’ve had for every game since losing to James Madison.
“We have had to go into every single game knowing this could be our last, and now we get to go into tomorrow but we have some breathing room,” she said. “But we're really just going to take it the same as we take every single game. We're just going to go out there and attack every pitcher and we're going to play hard on defense and just play our game every single game.”
The first pitch for Tuesday’s contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. The Championship Series is a best-of-three series, with Game 2 slated for Wednesday at 6 p.m., and Thursday’s if-necessary game scheduled for 2 p.m.